“Today, I’ll try not to track down a bully, take a 2 by 4, sharpen it, & pound it up his rear with a croquet hammer. For I’m a man of peace. I will, however, rattle a few cages of some elected representatives who create anti bullying websites with NO ADEQUATE LAWS to back it up.”
My friend obviously isn’t Gandhi… but can you blame him? Wouldn’t you also be tempted to find a few creative uses for a croquet hammer if a kid at school was making your kid feel like his life wasn’t worth living?
It’s been almost a year since the suicide of Tyler Clementi – a Rutgers student who jumped off of the George Washington Bridge after his roommate posted a live internet video of him having a sexual encounter with another man – brought increased national attention the “problem” of bullying among LGBT youth.
Those of us who work with (or are) LGBT youth didn’t need the death of Tyler Clementi – or any of the dozens of other youth who commit suicide due to bullying every year – to remind us that words can be even more dangerous than sticks and stones. Dozens of studies – including this report from the Journal of Youth and Adolescence – report the effect of discrimination and harassment on LGBT youth:
40% of youth who reported a minority sexual orientation indicated feeling sad or hopeless in the past 2 weeks, compared to 26% of heterosexual youth… [the data] also showed that lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth were more than twice as likely as heterosexual youth to have considered attempting suicide in the past year (31% vs. 14%).
Adolescence should be a time of hopefullness, not hopelessness. The church – one of the primary vehicles God has given us to communicate His hope to the hopeless – should stand as a sanctuary of peace and safety for LGBT youth.
Our friends at Lutherans Concerned/North America have developed a super anti-bullying curriculum that’s designed for churches who want to make both their congregations and communities safe(r) places for LGBT folks. According to the promo literature, Where All Can Safely Live “was developed with the help of the staff at the Pacific Violence Prevention Institute, from the pioneering research on bullying by Dan Olweus, and materials created by the United States government.”
Almeida, J., Johnson, R., Corliss, H., Molnar, B., & Azrael, D. (2009). Emotional distress among LGBT youth: The influence of perceived discrimination based on sexual orientation. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 38, 1001 – 1014.